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Love: The Heart of the Matter

Love: The Heart of the Matter

John 21:15-17—So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”

Few scenes in the Bible touch my heart like this one where we find Jesus with breakfast ready for some hungry, tired, confused, and fishless fishermen. How like Jesus to be this way. As lead pastor He knows when to show up with His love.

He knows just the right questions to ask. “Children, have you any food?” Of course, He knew, but He wanted them to be honest and admit their fishlessness. His questions are often piercing, but His terms are endearing—“children” He calls them.

He knows just the right directions to give. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” They did, and they did. In a short while these would-be shepherds were around the breakfast fire with 153 fish nearby.

Perhaps Peter was just about dried off when Jesus asked a qualifying question, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” This question, which was repeated in essence two more times, did two things. First of all, it set the record straight for Peter that he was not superstar disciple. He could fail with the best of them. Secondly, it identified the heart priority for a proper under-shepherd, “Do you love Me?” Love is the heart of the matter for both the Shepherd and the sheep. Feeding, leading, and tending sheep springs from a heart of love for the Shepherd and His blood-bought purchase. Notice that following Peter’s cautious “yes” Jesus’ instructions were to “Feed My sheep” (emphasis added).

The gospel record makes it clear that Jesus lived and led out of a heart of love. Love for the Father, love for Jerusalem, love for the multitudes, love for the children, love for God’s house (John 21:17), and love for His disciples was the driver behind all that He did—even when He cleansed the temple.

Love should define our ministries. Everything from public preaching to private praying should bubble from a fresh spring of love. We talk to and about Jesus because we love Jesus.

I am thankful that God’s love language is obedience. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). There are times when our hearts may not feel anything, but during those emotionally dry days we can take the next right step and trust the Lord to bring back the springtime.

The Ephesian church was planted by Paul and pastored by Timothy and John. They served, sacrificed, and suffered for Christ but forgot love (Revelation 2:1-7). Labor is no substitute for passion. Separation cannot replace adoration. The heart of the matter is love. That’s what pleases Christ and that’s what refreshes His people.

Follow our Lead Pastor and pray for the flock to be made perfect with His love (I John 4:17-19).

From Belief to Behavior

  1. Review Scriptures that reflect on who Jesus is and what He has done.

  2. Have seasons of prayer doing nothing but thanking and praising. Use short sentences; take turns.

  3. Sing to Him as a group.

  4. Remind everyone regularly of this love relationship. Duty alone is exhausting.


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